ALERT: Cyber Attack on Medical System

cyber

A suspected cyber attack has stricken the health network of Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada’s easternmost province, causing the cancellation of thousands of medical appointments throughout the province of over a half-million people. Many local health systems have been forced to revert to manual, paper-based methods in order to function at all. The core of the network which is operated by Canadian Telecom provider Bell, was damaged in the attack in both it’s primary and backup systems. Minister of Health for NL John Haggie told the press that what he characterized as a “possible cyberattack by a third party” was first detected on November 6th.

“It has taken out the brain of the data centre …. Our main aim here now is to mitigate the effect and maintain some continuity of service for the people of this province,” Haggie said.

According to GlobalNews.ca, the eastern and most populous area of the province, home of the capital at St. Johns was hit hardest. The write,

“Newfoundland and Labrador’s Eastern Health region was hardest hit, leading to the cancellation Monday of all non-emergency medical appointments and procedures. Eastern Health CEO David Diamond said his agency has lost access to everything from basic email to diagnostic images and lab results, adding that non-urgent medical procedures are likely to be cancelled again on Tuesday.

Physicians, he added, have told him that without X-rays and CT scans being available electronically, it would be safer to delay appointments and procedures for several days. “We can’t handle the same volume in a paper-based system, so it’s safer to reschedule,” he said.”

Another Possible Ransomware Cyber Attack On A Medical System

In an interview on November 8th Steve Waterhouse, a former information systems security officer with the Defence Department told reporters that the damage done in Newfoundland and Labrador bears all the hallmarks of a ransomware attack. There have been many in recent memory that have stricken medical systems and they are prime targets. These are essential services that governments cannot allow to be down for any stretch of time, making the stakeholders more likely to payout.

“I believe it is ransomware that got inside of that (computer system) and crippled the operation …. It’s highly probable it’s ransomware, as this (phenomenon) is spreading across the country,” Waterhouse said. According to Canada’s Cable Public Affairs Channel, Andrew Furey, premier of Newfoundland and Labrador, John Haggie, minister of health, and John Hogan, minister of justice and public safety, revealed November 9th that some personal information of patients and employees was accessed in the province’s cyberattack that has caused ongoing disruptions on the health-care system. As Canada spirals into medical authoritarianism, this type of attack only serves to make things worse and drive the government of Justin Trudeau to clamp down harder.

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